June 27, 2017
We just finished our student exhibitions at all of our schools and I found myself walking around with a constant smile on my face. On one level, I am really proud to see the artwork all over our walls that simply demonstrates the time and effort our students and staff are putting in. We really have become a first rate art school.
But, beyond the artwork, I can’t get over the pride on our student’s faces as they look at their work and the hundreds of others around them. One River has grown and has become a real community. And, at our shows, our community is even larger with friends and family enjoying the creative energy in our space.
Art making is like playing music…you do it because it makes you feel good and allows you to express yourself in a different way. Like music, it also needs to be shared with others and our student exhibitions are a concert in their own right with a real audience providing the feedback and the love.
May 23, 2017
For those of you who have not engaged in the discussion of STEM and STEAM education, let me set this up before I make a few points. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach…STEAM adds ART.
Now that I am of the ripe old age of 56, I can reflect on my observations that reflect on over five decades (ugh…I really sound old now!) Having said that, I have never remembered a time when people raved about arts education…in my lifetime it has always been seemingly underfunded and underdeveloped. Having said that, it appears that we are really making progress in these other areas. But, do people really want STEAM?
When I Google “STEAM” Education”, there are over 75 million results to that Google search query. When I search for “STEM Education” there are only 16 million. How can you explain the fact that so many more people are wondering about how do we integrate ARTS into the mix and promote the connectivity between abstract thinking and practical thinking?
Frankly, abstract thinking is practical thinking. The more we train our brain to “create” the more we will train our brain to resolve problems, develop strategy AND create cool things. Art making is fun. It also builds critical thinking skills. And, in today’s times, critical thinking has never been in greater need to deal with the complexity of modern life.
What do you think???
#MondayThoughts #OneRiverSchool #STEAM #TransformingArtEducation
May 8, 2017
April 24, 2017
10-Year old Chase Balay has a malignant brain tumor. This beautiful 4th grade boy from my town Cresskill, NJ, an accomplished young artist with a special creative spirit, is battling something that is hard to put into words and frankly represents the nightmare we all dread as our worst possible fear. This is what it is …I can’t sugar coat it, but I want to tell you about one of the most emotional and important efforts I have ever seen using art as a tool for healing and creating context.
The Merritt School in Cresskill, NJ approached One River in January to tell us about Chase. They simply said that Chase was dying and they had an idea to celebrate his life through art. We jumped in instantaneously and this past Friday was one of, if not the most moving day I have had in over ten years running creative education businesses.
165 3rd, 4th and 5th graders…each created an individual artwork in honor of Chase. They used his imagery…monsters and robots, to honor Chase and in some ways to preserve his lasting spirit. These objects were presented at One River School in Englewood this past Friday night and our community came out in the hundreds to support Chase, rally around this unbelievably emotional moment, raise money and celebrate life.
Chase’s Dad Erik is extraordinary and I am certain he and Chase’s Mom Julie have more passion and spirit than just about anyone in the world. His brother Ryder is a bundle of energy who is so lucky to have such a supportive system around him. Chase’s grandparents spoke and presented a slideshow of Chase’s art and it was riveting. The staff at Merritt School and the parents and community in Cresskill should be admired. Chase’s friends and peers…this may be the most impressive group of young kids I have ever met.
There is a fundraising component…we auctioned artwork from the event and there is an online tool to support Chase at:
Hug your kids. Think about how precious life is. Celebrate the special beauty that art provides for humanity…it is a language that allows us to connect in times of good and bad.
Matt Ross Founder
April 4, 2017
November 7, 2016
So many things have been said about the election that I will try to avoid the obvious here. For whatever it means, I am not in the game of governing and I respect people who try to make a difference. I may not always agree with them, but I can’t imagine how hard it must be to do the job and either way I am willing to accept whatever happens and support our country.
Life is short and happiness is in your hands. We have the best country in the world by far… warts and all. I can give you so many examples but I am sure I don’t have to convince you about that point. So, lets take a chill pill, go out and vote and then lets come together and work on building a better future for our children.
I often share the story of the British artist Bob and Roberta Smith who last year ran for Prime Minister of Great Britain on the “Art Party.” Absurd as it sounds, he struck a chord with me. Making great people … makes great countries.
To that point, at One River, we are focused on helping people think differently. Our world is better when people are challenging themselves to think differently and that is what art is about. It doesn’t matter whether you are young or old…just create.
Check out Bob and Roberta’s latest “creative parade” here.
#MondayThoughts #VoteforHumanity #BobandRobertaSmith
October 31, 2016
I am a health nut. I read as much as I can about diet, exercise and the latest updates with a goal of constantly upgrading my routine. While there is no one recipe that works for everyone, I can assure you that if you demonstrate discipline in a few areas you will improve your health and your brain power…it is that simple.
Exercise: Here’s what the American Diabetes Association says: “Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week or a total of 150 minutes per week. Spread your activity out over at least 3 days during the week and try not to go more than 2 days in a row without exercising.
Nutrition: Here’s what Matt Ross says: Limit your carbs to 150G per day, Eat zero trans fats, Cut out processed food, eat more dark, leafy greens, drink more water, reduce your alcohol to no more than 3 drinks per week.
Your Mind: Get the monkey off your back…a friend recently told me about Daniel Smith’s book “Monkey Mind”. In today’s world, I think anxiety is the number one challenge to heath and well-being. Manage it.
Your Soul: Do something quiet that requires your complete attention. Take an art class! Or, go mediate. Or, go somewhere into nature and sit still.
Get your head making better choices and you will have better health with a more clear head, It’s that simple.
#MondayThoughts #YourHealthandYourBrain #MonkeyMind
September 19, 2016
September 12, 2016
I am very interested in the mental health benefits that art provides. Before I dug deeply into visual art, music was my primary way to escape and it provided me an outlet to relax. I could pickup my guitar for ten minutes and find myself breathing more deeply while resetting any negative thoughts swirling around my head.
So, as I explored the idea of creating a fun art school, I also read a lot about the mental / physical benefits of art making. Take a look at the this video from the artist Ross Simonini. Ross takes the aspect of using art to develop neural balance to a different level…he paints with all four limbs!!! Yes, both hands and feet!!!!!
Ross is an extraordinary guy. I had a chance to visit his studio last year and we decided to show his artwork here at One River. That exhibition opens this Saturday and Ross will be onsite talking about his practice and how art making can lead to an awakening of new pathways that promote brain development and creative growth.
Contemporary Art is about exploring new ideas, materials and processes to express yourself. Ross Simonini is a true artist: musician, poet, writer and visual artist. He also is an inspiration to me and is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet. Come by this Saturday from 1-3:30PM to meet Ross, check out his exhibition and try out some fun things.
#MondayThoughts #RossSimonini #OneRiverExhibitions
February 15, 2016
I remember when I was 8 years old, there were no living former US Presidents. When LBJ left office in 73 and died shortly thereafter, we returned to this state and I think it contributed greatly to my pure reverence for the role of President of the United States of America. As a kid, the only President was the acting President and during my formative years the role seemed so grand and so beyond reproach.
Today, we live in a world of 24-hour news cycles, social media and pundits that come from everywhere and there seems to be a watered down appreciation for the POTUS because of party politics and the velocity of negative messages. During a highly volatile primary season when we filter everything through party politics, our personal emotions cloud some of the most important values that we all share as Americans.
On this Presidents Day, I simply want to make a pledge to hopefully ask anyone who reads this to help do our part to support and be grateful for the people who spend their lives serving us. I have no politics in any of my messages…just some personal thoughts on a Monday that make people think a little bit differently.
Happy Presidents Day!